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Backpacks without Back Pain

As the kids head back to school, what can you do to help them with Backpack Safety?

Here are some preventive guidelines to help your child avoid the pain or injury that can happen with improper backpack use.

Tip #1: Make sure your child's backpack weighs no more than 10 to 15 percent of his or her body weight (10% for younger children, 15% for adolescents). A heavier backpack will cause your child to bend or hunch forward in an attempt to support the weight on his or her back, rather than on the shoulders, by the straps.

Extra tip: One way to reduce the load is to consolidate all subjects into one, main binder. Use divider inserts to separate subjects. For each subject, keep only the information from the current unit in the main binder. After the current unit is finished, take that information out of the main binder and put it into separate subject binders which you can keep at home or in your locker at school. Consolidating to one binder means less binders in your backpack and less weight on your shoulders AND there is less of a chance of forgetting to bring your homework home if it's all in one place.

Tip #2: The backpack should never hang more than four inches below the waistline. A backpack that hangs too low increases the weight on the shoulders, causing your child to lean forward when walking.

Tip #3: A backpack with individualized compartments helps in positioning the contents most effectively. Make sure that pointy or bulky objects are packed away from the area that will rest on your child's back.

Tip #4: Bigger is not necessarily better. The more room there is in a backpack, the more your child will carry and the heavier the backpack will be.

Tip #5: Urge your child to wear BOTH shoulder straps. Lugging the backpack around by one strap can cause the disproportionate shift of weight to one side, leading to neck and muscle spasms, as well as low back pain.

Tip #6: Wide padded straps are very important. Non-padded straps are uncomfortable, and can dig into your child's shoulders.

Tip #7: The shoulder straps should be adjustable so the backpack can be fitted to your child's body. Straps that are too loose can cause the backpack to dangle uncomfortably and cause spinal misalignment and pain. Your child's backpack should never hang more than 4 inches below their waistline.

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